How to Redesign Your Website Without Affecting SEO

Thinking about redesigning a website or migrating to new CMS??

Do you know that redesigning can be critical?

Yes, only when done, wrongly!! 

It can affect your website’s organic traffic.  

Obtaining organic traffic is a tough job, though. From link building, link generation, to on-page optimization, it takes a lot of hard work. If you tend to lose your vision on those efforts, then it could be disastrous for your business. 

When you lose your website traffic and ranking, then you will notice fewer sales and leads. 

But, on the contrary, it is also essential to redesign a website. There are many reasons, some of the leading ones are defined below:

  • The requirement of changing the website theme (appearance). 
  • Rebranding is demanded.
  • Platform migration is required, like, from HTML to WordPress.
  • A mobile-friendly theme is required. 

A redesign of the web site does not certainly imply modifying the domain name. Therefore, in the cases, as mentioned above, it is believed that you retain the same domain name but improve the appearance of the web site, basically the design.

Updating your website and changing the features, design, and user experience are recommended.  But, Google does not accept it.  

Resigning a website undoubtedly gives you the chance to improve conversion rate, SEO, and digital marketing on an all.  Remember that it could be disastrous if appropriate steps are not taken to ensure the stable migration from the existing website to the new one.  It surely will destroy SEO equity.

To assure the redesigning has a definite influence on search engine rankings after the new launch, you should keep some considerations intact. Redesigning tends to engage with marketers, designers, and other stakeholders to keep not only current ranks but also to generate new ones for more organic growth. Check out the key considerations below:

  • User interactions
  • On-page SEO
  • Website content
  • Technical health

We are here to give you the steps that you should follow while redesigning your website.  Let’s get started!!

Step  1: Setup the New Website on a Temporary URL

It is recommended to copy the existing website to the temporary URL, and adopt the new design. When the process is ready, change the domain.

Some technical details are there, but the hosting provider will supervise you to set up everything. 

Operating directly is not advised because it might invite some inevitable problems. As per the SEO perspective, assure that the testing website is in the list of Google indexing (for avoiding duplicate content). Two methods are there to execute it:

Method 1

While working in WordPress, go to Settings/ Discussion. Review the Search engine visibility option.

Method 2

Update your robots.txt file and integrate the below lines of code:

User-agent: *

Disallow: /

The aim of the code mentioned above is to block the search engines for accessing the website.

Step 2: Test the New Website

As of now, the existing website is copied in the new one comprehensively. Though, before redesigning the website, it is better to check the website thoroughly. 

While examining, other significant aspects such as; CSS, features, and broken links should be checked. XENU, a free tool to check whether the links are valid.

Step 3: Build a list of All Pages from your Existing Website

Changing the URL structure is not a big thing, but what is important is to let Google and other search engines know what you have changed. 

And, if you are not doing so, then you are hurting your website ranking and declining the trust rate. Accordingly, you are losing the organic traffic. 

The best thing is to make a list of URLs your current website has. And, the way you can adopt is to get your sitemap and save it to the text file later.

Step 4: Do proper 301 redirects

The next thing to do is to make 301 redirects among existing and new URLs. For instance, for the “Services” page on the existing website, the URL would be” “www.yourwebsite.com/aboutus.html.” While redesigning, the designer will change the URL to “www.yourwebsite.com/about-us.html”. 

Apply the 301 redirects to ensure that the mentioned URLs are working properly. And it does not result in losing the SEO benefits that you had obtained from the existing URL.

And, if it is not done accurately, then 404 errors will be displayed. In this process, the existing URL will be redirected to the new URL. 

This way (technically), you are conveying the search engines that you have changed your URL.  Accordingly, your efforts that you have put into gaining SEO previously will not get affected. 

“.htaccess” file could be used to integrate the redirects. Check out the below code to know how it will look like:

Redirect 301 /oldwebsite http://yoursite.com/new-url

If you do not have any idea to execute it manually on the WordPress CMS, then you can give a try to the redirect plugins. All you need is to fill out the form.

Step 5. Switch to The New Website

After carrying out the designing, developing, and testing, your new website is all set to go live. It is just one step away.

Whatever you will do at this stage will assure you that you are switching to the new website quickly and effortlessly — Google advice to perform this step at once. 

Step 6: Verification of New Website with Google Search Console

When your website is live, the main thing is to check if everything is working well.  It is suggested to run the broken links to assure that you have not missed anything. The subsequent thing is to log in to the webmaster tool (Bing and Google) and secure you about the verification of the website.

And, if in any case, it is not, then verification should be done to monitor how Bing and Google are indexing the new websites.

Step 7: Use the URL Inspection Tool to Check that Google is indexing the New Website Properly

In the Google Search Console, use the URL INSPECTION option (from the top bar) to assure that Google can index and read the newly migrate website accurately.

And, if there are no issues, then click on the “Request Indexing” button. It is used to boost the indexing process.

Step 8: Review robots.txt

In the process of redesigning, there is a probability that the robot.txt can get corrupted. And, if in any case, it is, then click on the “robot.txt” option below the crawl.   Robots is the file which is used by the experts to deny or allow access to the search engines for the website (as a whole or on specific pages). 

Any incorrect configuration in robots.txt can refuse access to the search engine crawlers, and it should be fixed promptly.

Step 9: Optimize and resubmit XML sitemap to Google and Bing

The next step is resubmitting the XML sitemap to the search engines (Google and Bing). When the URLs are changed, then consequently, the new XML sitemap will also get a new structure. It helps the search engines to index the redesigned website quickly. 

Step 10: Observe the Changes

Last but not least. It is vital to check the changes and the appearance for the notable growth.  Check the rankings on the top keywords. Many SEO tools (SeMrush) are there that lets you keep an eye on the keywords. If you notice any substantial change in SEO, then find out the reasons for this.  Discover the solution to avoid the slow loading of your website. It is also important to examine your website every two or three months. 

Wrapping Up

Redesigning is a daunting task.  But, it is the best way to boost the conversion rate and SEO.  Websites with substantial organic traffic must handle everything adequately.  

We have mentioned ways to redesign the website without affecting SEO.  These steps assure you of the definite improvement. If you are following a definite process with the imperative choices, monitoring the results, performing the regular changes, then you should not worry. 

Consider redesigning not only as an opportunity to improve the design but to capture more audiences. 

We hope you liked this article.  Related queries and suggestions are welcome. 

Thanks for reading!

Emily Johns

Emily Johns is a Senior WordPress developer and IT consultant at WordSuccor, providing WordPress Website design and development services to global clients. She has dived through the open-source code for over a decade and shares everything about WordPress and new Web design technologies. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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